Salt Lake City

Public Lands Department

Tree Care Information

Urban Forestry provides most service for trees located in the public right of way. However, there are still some responsibilities for the property owner adjacent to public trees.


In Salt Lake City’s hot and dry climate, trees need to have supplemental watering to survive. It is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to water trees in the parkstrip. Urban Forestry provides a watering bag with each newly planted tree. This bag can be left on the tree for the first 2 years, except during winter months, and removed at the end of the second year.

Newly planted trees need to be watered 1-2 times per week in spring and fall and 2-3 times per week in summer. Unlike watering a lawn, the goal of tree watering is to have saturation deep in the soil. Tree roots are usually 18-24” deep. Water the mulched area directly with a hose for 5-10 minutes and then fill the watering bag if it is empty. The watering bag is not meant as the sole source of water for the tree; instead, it is meant to keep the roots moist in between deep watering with a hose.

Saturating the soil deeply is vital to proper tree root development. Deep watering encourages roots to grow down in the soil which helps achieve proper anchorage for the tree. Watering with a sprinkler will not saturate the soil to the proper depth and most of the water is lost to runoff and evaporation.

When the tree has been in the ground for 2 years, remove the water bag and discard it or store it for later use on a different tree. The tree’s roots will be beyond the bag after 2 years and the most effective means of watering is direct watering with a hose.

As the tree grows, it will need supplemental water for its entire life. The exact amount of water is variable but generally 5-10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter is recommended. Water should be applied evenly at a low flow rate until the soil is saturated to a depth of 18.”

Tree Watering Calendar

Urban Forestry provided a tree watering calendar with each newly planted tree. The calendar serves as a visual reminder to water the newly planted tree and highlights the watering schedule that will allow the tree to thrive. A digital version of the calendar can be found by clicking on the photo below:

Download a smart phone calendar HERE to receive alerts of watering days. If you are using a computer, right click and save the calendar to your desktop and open it from there.


Providing mulch around a tree has numerous benefits, but it needs to be done correctly or it will do more harm than good. Mulch should be 2-4 inches thick and extend to the drip line of the tree. Mulch should be in an even flat layer, not piled up around the tree and no mulch should be touching the trunk. Refer to the diagram below for proper mulching technique.

Properly mulching a tree helps insulate the soil and root zone from temperature swings and compaction. It also serves as a physical barrier to string trimmer and mower damage. Juvenile tree trunks are very sensitive to mechanical damage from string trimmers and a mulch ring helps keep them away from the trunk of the tree. Still, it is important to take care NOT to hit the tree’s trunk with lawn care equipment.


Urban Forestry does the best we can to monitor and maintain all the trees that make up the urban forest, however with 85,000 trees, we need help from the adjacent property owners. If the park strip tree adjacent to your property looks stressed, it could be due to a number of factors and requires a trained arborist to determine the appropriate course of action. Keep a close eye on the park strip tree(s) near your property and call Urban Forestry as soon as you suspect a problem, so we can provide service to the tree before it is too late.


Pruning of all city trees (growing between the sidewalk and road) is done by the Salt Lake City Urban Forestry Program. Call our office for an evaluation if the park strip tree is in need of pruning. A permit is required prior to any pruning of city trees.
All tree pruning shall be performed in accordance with the Utah Shade Tree Pruning Standards or the American National Standard Institute for Plant Maintenance: ANSI A300 (Part 1)-2001. NO TREE TOPPING OR HEADING BACK.

for ANSI Standards: American National Standards Institute
25 West 43rd Street # 4
New York, NY 10036-7406

for Utah Shade Tree Pruning Standards:
Utah Community Forest Council
P.O. Box 961
Salt Lake City, UT 84110-0961